Business briefs

2013-03-15T00:00:00Z Business briefsFrom Wire Reports From Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star
March 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NATION

Samsung enlarges screen on iPhone rival Galaxy

NEW YORK - Samsung Electronics is kicking up its competition with Apple with its new Galaxy S 4 smartphone, which has a larger, sharper screen than its predecessor, the best-selling S III.

The Galaxy S 4, which crams a 5-inch screen into a body slightly smaller than the S III's, will go on sale globally in the April-June period. In the U.S., it will be sold by all four national carriers - Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA - and by smaller US Cellular and Cricket.

Samsung didn't say what the phone will cost, but it can be expected to start at $200 with a two-year contract in the U.S.

The S 4's screen is 56 percent larger than the iPhone's.

Apple Inc. declined to discuss this week whether Apple is considering enlarging the screen on the next iPhone model, expected to be released later this year.

Among other changes, the Galaxy S 4's screen now senses fingers hovering just above the screen, and some applications, such as Mail, react. Users can control some other applications by making gestures in the air above the phone.

Software glitch delays 660,000 tax refunds

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service says 660,000 taxpayers will have their refunds delayed by up to six weeks because of a problem with the software they used to file their tax returns.

The delay affects people claiming education tax credits who filed returns between Feb. 14 and Feb. 22.

H&R Block says some of its customers were affected but the company has solved the problem. A limited number of other software companies have also had problems, but an IRS spokeswoman wouldn't identify them.

Turbo Tax customers were not affected, a spokeswoman said.

More oversight sought on student-loan firms

WASHINGTON - The government's consumer-finance watchdog wants stricter oversight of companies that collect and log student loan payments.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed Thursday that it supervise non-bank student loan companies - a more stringent regulation than these companies have faced. The bureau says scrutiny is needed to ensure borrowers aren't mistreated as the industry grows and more people fall behind on payments.

ARIZONA

Foreclosure rate keeps dropping; state now No. 6

PHOENIX - The number of Arizonans losing their homes to repossession or who are in some stage of the foreclosure process keeps dropping.

New data released by foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac shows nearly 4,000 homes were taken by lenders or received notices of foreclosure last month. That's a 29 percent drop from January and a 56 percent drop from February 2012.

About 1,900 homes were repossessed last month and 2,100 homeowners received a notice of default, the first step in the foreclosure process.

In March 2012, nearly 9,500 homes were in some stage of foreclosure. That includes 3,600 repossessed by banks and more than 5,900 homeowners who received a notice of default. That month, Arizona was No. 1 in the nation for foreclosures. Arizona is now No. 6.

Mortgage rate rises

The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week to its highest level in seven months but remains near historic lows. Freddie Mac says the loans' average rate rose to 3.63 percent from 3.52 percent last week.

The Associated Press

COMING SATURDAY

A first-look review of the new Galaxy S 4 smartphone.

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